M25 protests 'have frustrated many people', says Oxford Diocese

Christian clergy have been involved in the controversial Insulate Britain protests.

The Diocese of Oxford has distanced itself from clergy taking part in Insulate Britain protests on the M25.

Rev Tim Hewes, 71, has a permission to officiate in the diocese and is one of several clergy members to have joined the controversial protests.

In a statement posted online, the Diocese of Oxford expressed sympathy with the intention behind the protests, but not the nature.

"The world faces extreme weather events, sea level rises and biodiversity loss. Our society has a tiny window to make rapid decisions and take action that will affect the life of the entire planet for centuries to come," it said.

"The recent actions of Revd Hewes and others, while arguably well intentioned, frustrated many people and we're unclear how what they have done drives the urgent change required.

"Responding to the current emergency is the responsibility of every family, every workplace, every village, town and city, every company, and every public institution. We all need to work together."

Other clergy to have joined the protests are Rev Sue Parfitt, 79, of Bristol, Rev Mark Coleman, 62, of Rochdale, and Catholic priest Rev Martin Newell, 54, of Birmingham.

They are all members of Christian Climate Action (CCA), but not everyone in this group supports the nature of the protest. 

Fellow CCA member Kate Chesterman explained in a blog why she decided against taking part.

"Personally, I can't care at a macro-level (billions/future generations) if I divorce myself from the care and concerns of individuals in the here and now," she wrote.

"The possibility that if I sit on the M25 someone might lose their job, miss their cancer treatment, or even die on the road is, for me, just too weighty. And so I didn't join Insulate Britain." 

Insulate Britain protesters have brought parts of the M25 to a standstill several times in the last fortnight after running out in front of moving vehicles.

The protesters were forcibly removed by the police and a High Court injunction has now been granted, meaning that they could be jailed if they continue to block traffic.

Ch Insp Mike Hodder said he was "very worried about serious injury and death".

"The risk of injury or death is very high when you're messing around on a motorway which in some sections is four lanes of live traffic," he told the BBC.

"Protesters standing on the hard shoulder and making an effort to get in to live traffic, anyone with a simple mind can understand that the result from that sort of action will be serious injury or death, and it could cause other motorists to react and have further accidents due to the consequences of those protesters making irrational decisions." 

Home Secretary Priti Patel has called the protest "unacceptable".